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150 The Artist, Drowning Once More

    Tianyu screamed as she fell in the water.

    That one scream, coupled along with the loud cracking sound, brought on an instant onslaught of shouts and yells, some terrified screams and some frantic cries. So many people rushed forward, reaching out for Tianyu who was flailing in the water. It was to no avail- the pavilion railings were too high to reach. The chaotic sounds of people yelling and water splashing filled the vicinity.

    Yujia stared at it all blankly.

    She saw all of it happen. From when the wooden beams broke, to when Tianyu fell, to the current mess and chaos happening in front of her. But for some reason, she felt... numb. Detached. It felt as if though she could comprehend everything happening, she also felt no need to move or speak or do

    anything

    .

    And then, the flashbacks kicked in.

    All of a sudden, instead of Rong Tianyu being the one who was drowning, Yujia could envision herself falling into the water again. Or no, it wasn't just

    envisioning

    .

    She was currently drowning.

    The water was rushing into her open mouth, seeping through her clothes, tangling through her hair. Its cold hands wrapped around her neck, tightening and pushing pressure down on her lungs. She sank lower and lower, completely helpless.

    Most of all, she couldn't breathe at all. Her breaths were shallow gasps, in rhythm with the speed of her racing heartbeat. The memories vanished- she could see that she was on land, she was safe, she wasn't drowning- but she still could barely breathe. Her heart was going to leap out of her throat and her chest was painfully compressed. Her hands were shaking- no, no, her entire body was shaking.

    Yujia tried to stop herself. She tried to breathe in, breathe out, to calm her heartbeat, to calm her mind, but she couldn't. She kept shaking. Her heart kept thudding. All the noise from her vicinity grew dimmer and dimmer, but the noise from the splashing water and Tianyu's cries grew louder.

    Then, oh

    god

    - no- the flashbacks were starting again. The water pulled her under the surface.

    No- no- count to ten. Breathe in, breathe out.

    Water kept rushing through her lungs, suffocating her completely. She needed to breathe she needed to breathe she needed to breathe.

    Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven.

    The water was so cold. Cold, like ice. So cold that she didn't feel like she could move at all. She was being frozen in place, dragged down by the water, air pulled out of her lungs.

    Six. Five. Four.

    There was no hope for her. She was going to drown. No one was going to help. It was all hopeless. Completely hopeless.

    Three. Two. One.

    Zhou Luowei's panicked voice suddenly rang out loud and clear in Yujia's mind. "You- you two- quick- go get help! Go find someone who can swim-

    quick

    !"

    Yujia blinked. The real world clicked back into her view.

    All around her, people were hurrying back and forth. Some were reaching out for Rong Tianyu, some were encouraging her to keep being above the water, some were yelling at others to go get help, some were rushing to get help.

    They were helping. They were

    helping

    .

    Rong Tianyu couldn't swim. This fact was clear. These young ladies, who have never been taught or given any opportunity to learn didn't know either. None of their maids did.

    They may have been sending people to get help who could swim, and they may have been trying to save Tianyu. But if someone didn't do anything fast, Tianyu wasn't going to last much longer in the water. Yujia knew that. She remembered exactly how long it took for her to sink down.

    Her heart was still racing in her chest. Her hands were still shaking non-stop. But at least she could breathe a little better now. There was finally air rushing into her lungs.

    Yujia stumbled back, counting down from ten over and over again to steady herself.

    She had to do something. She

    had

    to. Everyone was trying to help, except for her, who was just standing alone and being absolutely pathetic and useless. She needed to get ahold of herself- think of some way to contribute to saving Tianyu- or Tianyu was really going to drown.

    She couldn't jump in. Yujia knew that clearly. She didn't know how to swim at all. It would just be two drowning people instead of one, a greater hassle and danger.

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    At the thought of the cold water, Yujia found that her hands were shaking harder than ever again. She raised them to look.

    Why was her fear so persistent? She was on land. She wasn't at any risk at drowning herself. There was no need for any of this fear. Water couldn't hurt her as long as she wasn't touching it.

    Yet her hands continued to shake. The memories of drowning continued to creep at the edge of her thoughts. Her heartbeat wasn't slowing down.

    At least, though, she could think clearly. This was a difference to her completely helpless state before. And Yujia needed to keep it that way.

    Her eyes still fixed on her shaking hands, Yujia also took in the blue fabric she was wearing. It was one of the less-refined robes she owned, one that was made of rougher and thicker fabric than thin silk which would rip easily. Because of the semi-chilly weather this morning, she decided to wear this set of robes.

    At the thought of this, Yujia's eyebrows flew up. She grabbed the belt she wore and untied it, then frantically took off her outer layer of robes. With the fabric, she twisted it into a bulky and long strand. Once the fabric was twisted, she took the string parts of her belt, fixing the twisted form in place. Hastily, she ran up to the edge of the railings, taking in exactly how far Rong Tianyu was.

    She needed to make a rope. If she gave Rong Tianyu something to grab onto, something to pull her closer to the railings, then perhaps she could save the younger girl.

    With the robes she wore, the fabric was thick enough to not tear easily. Now twisted, it would act perfectly as a robe, the only problem being that it was too short to reach Tianyu, who was further in the water.

    Yujia spun herself around, pointing at everyone present here. "Please- if you want to save her- please give me your outer robes! I only need one or two more-"

    Jing Juan took a wary step back. "But that's just not proper- how can we take off our clothes in public? And also, most of us are wearing silk! If you're about to do what I think you're going to do, silk is going to tear easily..."

    "We're talking about a whole human life here; who cares if it's proper or not proper?" Yujia snapped back.

    "You're right." Lu Feifei stood up, untying the cloak she wore around her. "I'm afraid I'm wearing silk underneath this cloak too, but this cloak should work!" Her voice was surprisingly loud and clear in this situation.

    Yujia took the cloak from her hands. She hurried as she twisted it, then knotting the two fabric pieces together in a tight knot. Her hands still trembled while she worked, making it difficult to tie the knot. That was when Luo Xiya stepped in, reaching forward and fixing the knot with steady hands.

    Xiya smiled, though her eyebrows were still furrowed with worry. She handed over another set of outer robes from what seemed to come from her maid behind her. "Here," she said.  It was already twisted and she tied the knot too.

    Yujia gratefully nodded a thanks, then leaned over the railing, tossing the makeshift rope in Tianyu's direction. "Rong Tianyu!" she yelled, "Grab onto the rope!"

    Tianyu, who had dangerously sunk under the water once already, heard her voice and flailed her arms forward, grabbing at the rope. Yujia gripped her fingers tightly on the other end, hoping that the fabric wouldn't all just fall apart.

    To Yujia's relief, he knots held tightly. Yujia kept pulling with all her strength, and bit by bit, she dragged a nearly passed out Rong Tianyu back to the railing.

    Tianyu, now completely sapped of all her energetic personality that Yujia knew her for, weakly grabbed onto the wooden railings. The few servants that were in the pavilion with them now rushed forward, pulling their Miss Rong back over the railing.

    Seeing Tianyu dazed, but still alive and breathing, Yujia finally stepped back, taking a deep breath in. She managed to save her. She managed to save someone from drowning.

    She, Yang Yujia, saved a life today.

    Along with that thought, her hands slowly ceased to tremble. Yujia, completely exhausted, slumped to the floor and closed her eyes.
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